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Lords report on London 2012 legacy: more needs to be done

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The UK government needs to provide clear, strong leadership and appoint a minister with responsibility for producing legacy benefits - or the positive effects of hosting the London 2012 Olympic Games could be lost.

That is the key message of a report, published today by the House of Lords Select Committee on Olympic and Paralympic Legacy, which also calls for strong and sustained cross-party cooperation to ensure lasting benefits, as well as the requirement for different government departments to work more closely with each other on legacy matters.

Worryingly, the report - entitled Keeping the flame alive; the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy - finds "little evidence" of increased participation in sport and states that there has been an uneven distribution of economic benefits of the Games across the UK.

In its 113-page report, the select committee makes a number of recommendations across seven different legacy areas - sporting participation; school age sport; high performance sport; the legacy of sports facilities; the legacy for regeneration in East London; the economic, social and cultural legacy; and the delivery and governance of the overall legacy.

In total, the report lists 91 recommendations and conclusions, which include:

• A call for the government to urgently coordinate the work of producing action plans for individual sports, involving the relevant clubs, NGBs and sports councils.

• An improvement to the methodology used for the Active People Survey and the Taking Part Survey due to the "clear limitations" of the current system

• Describing the decision to scrap School Sports Partnerships as a "mistake"

• Criticism of UK Sport's "no compromise" approach to funding Olympic and Paralympic sports - stating that it will lead to a growing gap between the sports which already do well and those which have little realistic prospect of developing in the next few years.

The reaction to the report within the UK sports industry has been mainly positive.

Speaking to Sports Management, Andy Sutch, chief executive of BISL, said: "I think the Lords Select Committee has hit the nail on the head with its findings.

"While there are some fantastic examples of legacy projects that are making a real difference, most of them are independently initiated on an ad hoc basis by local authorities, schools, national governing bodies and commercial operators.

"What we don't seem to have is joined up thinking and clear leadership from the central government level.

"Take the local authorities - some of them have delivered great initiatives, while others have seemed to have simply given up on legacy - partly due to the economic pressures they face.

"What we need is for the flag of legacy to be waved across all departments in government. The DCMS must work with other departments to make sure the message on legacy is centrally-led and coordinated.

"Ideally, we need to let the local authorities be in control of the details, but they must be encouraged to incorporate the idea of a legacy across all their activities."

Ukactive, the health body for the physical activity sector, supported the findings. Chief executive David Stalker said: "We support the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy Committee's call for Government to deliver a clear and singular ownership of the legacy of the Games.

"The Legacy promised to deliver a more active nation, but the anticipated surge in participation hasn't occurred. As the Games get further away, it is much harder to keep momentum so this important report sets out the changes that needed to get the Legacy on track for success."

Meanwhile, UK Sport issued a statement, defending itself against the report's criticism of its funding decisions.

"UK Sport's "No Compromise" approach is about getting the right support to the right athletes for the right reasons over an eight-year investment cycle. It has created a high performance system that is admired the world over and to abandon it now would enable other nations, who want to replicate GB's Olympic and Paralympic success, to seize upon the opportunity.

Our view is that any compromise on UK Sport's winning formula that has served our nation so well in Beijing 2008 and spectacularly in London 2012 will put at risk our ambition to do what no other host nation has done in recent history and win more medals at the next Olympic and Paralympic Games."

Commenting on the need for a more coherent approach to school age sport, Martin Gallagher, CEO of Compass, said: "The report recognises that we've not achieved the sustainability models or participation engagement envisaged and that is very disappointing.

"What is clear is that critical action is needed if we are to create an active, healthy, sporty nation and that has start with young children in schools and community settings; failure to action this will see the obesity epidemic grow and risk the lives of children and the economy of the country.

"The delivery of PE, sport and physical activity in primary school needs to be supported by appropriately qualified professional staff - and both the Department for Education and OFSTED can make a significant contribution to this by working with groups such as the Association for Physical Education, Sports Coach UK and Compass."

To download the full report and to read more on the report, click here.

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The UK government needs to provide clear, strong leadership and appoint a minister with responsibility for producing legacy benefits - or the positive effects of hosting the London 2012 Olympic Games could be lost.
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